"I’m not dying from this,” the supermodel, 58, told 'WSJ. Magazine' for the Fall Men’s Style Issue
Linda Evangelista revealed that she has battled breast cancer twice in the past five years.
Evangelista appears on the new digital cover of WSJ. Magazine’s Fall Men’s Style issue, lensed by close friend and famed fashion photographer Steven Meisel. In a candid interview, the supermodel, 58, shared that she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.
“It was detected in my annual mammogram,” she told the outlet. “The margins were not good, and due to other health factors, without hesitation, because I wanted to put everything behind me and not to have to deal with this, I opted for a bilateral mastectomy. Thinking I was good and set for life. Breast cancer was not going to kill me.”
However, in July 2022, Evangelista felt a lump on her breast and she ultimately learned that her breast cancer returned.
“Dig a hole in my chest,” she told her oncologist after her second diagnosis. “I don’t want it to look pretty. I want you to excavate. I want to see a hole in my chest when you’re done. Do you understand me? I’m not dying from this.”
“I just went into this mode that I know how to do — just do what you’ve got to do and get through it,” she added of her approach to treatment. “And that’s what I did.”
Recently, Evangelista’s post-cancer care oncologist told her that her prognosis is “good,” but the model admitted she wasn’t entirely thrilled with the news, asking her doctor, “Why isn’t it great?”
“Well, once it’s come back, there’s a chance,” she said the doctor told her, adding that she also received a “horrible oncotype score,” a number that represents the recurrence risk of cancer.
Evangelista also acknowledged that because her future is uncertain, she’s simply grateful for each day.
“I know I have one foot in the grave, but I’m totally in celebration mode,” she said. “I’ve come through some horrible health issues. I’m at a place where I’m so happy celebrating my book [Linda Evangelista Photographed by Steven Meisel], my life. I’m so happy to be alive. Anything that comes now is bonus.”
A friend of Evangelista's echoes her sentiments, telling PEOPLE that the supermodel is back to being her funny self and feeling good.
"With the publication of her book with Steven Meisel, the September Vogue cover and now the WSJ. Magazine feature, Linda is in celebratory mode," Evangelista's friend tells PEOPLE exclusively. "She’s made it to the other side of some long and very dark moments, so being able to look at her career and all that she’s achieved is something she wants to celebrate.”
When it comes to her breast cancer journey, Evangelista also refers to herself as a two-time “survivor on standby,” staying optimistic while also being responsible about maintaining awareness about her health. She told WSJ. Magazine that she’s only now reached a point where she’s ready to share her cancer battle, doing so on her own terms.
“I’ve kept it quiet. Only a handful of people knew. And I’m just not one of those people who has to share everything,” she told the outlet. “I thought to myself, I will share this one day but while I am going through it, absolutely not. I don’t want the Daily Mail waiting outside my door like they do every time something happens. ‘Linda seen for the first time since blah blah blah.’ ”
Part of doing this on her own terms is donating proceeds from her book with Meisel to breast cancer research. The book, out Sept. 13, is Meisel's first retrospective monograph, and he told the outlet he only did it because "Linda asked."
“There was no long, in-depth conversation.... We went to work.... Dare I say, I was kind of easy,” she added. The book features nearly 200 photos of Evangelista shot by the photographer over nearly three decades and tells a story of their friendship through fashion and art.
Read Evangelista and Meisel's full feature in the WSJ. Magazine Fall Men’s Style Issue in print on newsstands, Saturday, Sept. 16.
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